Finishing Well

start_finishA few months ago, I was inspired by a sermon given by Rev. Billy Hester of Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church here in Savannah.


My family joined Asbury Memorial this year not only for its inclusive, open congregation, but because Rev. Hester brings Broadway to church. Yes, I said Broadway TO church. Billy and his wife are former NYC theater professionals. This is not your typical Methodist church, folks.


Among the inspiring stories Billy told and insightful points he made, here are my notes on his sermon:

  • Finishing well means giving your best until the very end
  • Life is a marathon, not a sprint
  • Gratification is found in the journey, not the destination
  • To be able to go the distance, people need to have physical, mental, and spiritual health
  • People who finish well are those who are always learning


Okay, so I could have just totally stolen his sermon and elaborated on each of the points above. But, Rev. Hester said it so much better than I can write it.


So here’s my take on the topic. I’ll try to include some original thoughts.

So much clutter – mental and physical – is caused by not finishing well. We jump to another project, idea, or distraction and leave the prior task undone.


My clients are accustomed to hearing me say these three little words…


Finish the job.

If you have just gotten off the phone with someone, add any to-do items to your list. If you don’t, you haven’t finished the job.


When someone interrupts you, ask them to give you ten seconds. Make a note of what you were doing. If you don’t, it will be harder to finish the job later.


If you have spread out a bunch of paper on your desk, the job is not over until the paper is put away.


In our zeal to be productive, we start many projects and tasks. What have we produced if we don’t finish the job?


Appreciate all that you have accomplished

At the end of each day, wouldn’t it be nice to reflect on what you DID instead of dwelling on what you DIDN’T do? Mark off what you completed on your to-do list. There’s an adrenaline rush just waiting to be had.


At the end of the month, examine the progress you have made toward your goals. No, you probably did not perfectly execute your goal-related actions. Strive for progress, not perfection.


At the end of a project, celebrate the changes that were brought about. Get the project team together for a social gathering that doesn’t involve Basecamp or Asana. Say “Yay us!”


Adults aren’t often awarded trophies or medals. We have to find our own approbations.


Challenge Yourself

In my seminar entitled The Superhero Power of Setting Goals, I show this picture.




The thumb represents where you are now and the pointer finger represents where you want to be.


You are the rubber band.


The further apart you perceive your present and future states, the more you are stretched. This is uncomfortable.


This discomfort is also known as…motivation. No stretch? No motivation.


Set challenging goals that stretch without snapping you. Achieving those types of goals can be cathartic.


THE Finish

From time to time, Rev. Hester reminds his congregation that someday, we all will transition. That’s his nice way of saying, “You’re going to die!!!”


Now’s the point where I poach my sermon notes for a good ending to this article…


Success is the journey. Success is not the destination. The destination is this “transition” thing we keep hearing about on Sundays.


I help my clients live their lives with intention. Too often, people are swept away by events and the priorities of other people and realize too late that they are on a road they would never have chosen.


As you transition (ha!) from one year into another, make a resolution to be more intentional.


And, finish the job well.



SPECIAL NOTE: Reverend Hester is the author of Wow! Moments: Stories of Grace, Wonder, and Synchronicity. This book considers the not-so-everyday miracles that make us say, “wow!” and the moments of synchronicity when two or more circumstances come together in a coincidental and meaningful way. This book is semi-autobiographical in nature and incorporates spirituality and life lessons with very honest accounts of the author’s own very human experiences and challenges. To purchase the book, click here.



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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.


  1. Janet Barclay

    Thank you for these powerful words! Your whole post is thought-provoking, but “Success is the journey. Success is not the destination.” especially resonated with me.

  2. Seana Turner

    Finishing leave us with a feeling of accomplishment – it builds confidence. In contrast, things that aren’t finished… even if they are ALMOST done… typically leaves us feeling low and insufficient. It is that rubber band stretching you talk about – it just doesn’t feel good! The finish (and the cleanup after the finish!) are the real “secret sauce” of doing any project.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Completion is so much better than perfection!

  3. Julie Bestry

    I missed this post the first time around, Melissa, so I’m so glad you referenced it in your newsletter. Thank you for sharing!


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